Educational designers might learn a thing or two from Julie Williams of Larson & Darby Group in Rockford, Illinois. The firm received the AIA Prairie Chapter’s 2018 Excellence Award for Interior Design, having turned an Illinois high school into a space where school pride is high and the noise low, thanks to her creative use of Zintra acoustical ceiling clouds from MDC. “Schools love any and all opportunities to display their school colors,” Williams says. She incorporated Zintra into her design for Central High School District 301 in Burlington, Illinois, when the school received district funds to remodel its Cafetorium and adjacent kitchen/server.
“Zintra is a logical choice for schools because of its ease of maintenance. The range of colors and choice of shapes enables educational facilities to incorporate their school colors in a creative way,” Williams explains. The renovation of the Cafetorium also included a complete modernization of the kitchen and servery area, with the goal of improving the efficiency and aesthetics of both spaces.
Williams says the school district wanted a design that was fun and bright, with a “wow” factor. The school also needed to reduce ambient noise in the cafetorium. Williams found the answer in Zintra.
“The acoustical needs in the existing space had never been addressed, and Zintra gave us a way to solve the challenge while adding to the visual appeal of the Cafetorium,” Williams explains. She chose acoustical clouds in chambray, ivory and cobalt to reflect the school’s colors.
The open design of the clouds allow light to pass through, and there is less surface area for dust collection. The banquette vertical clouds were originally installed approximately four feet from the ceiling, but the school realized a nearby stairwell might tempt students to reach for them, so Williams suggested raising them to approximately three inches from the ceiling.
“We had no worries in making this change because of how easy they were to install. All hardware and hanging materials are included, along with straightforward instruction,” Williams says. She also relied on her MDC rep for information and guidance throughout the project.
“If you want to ensure a successful outcome, product knowledge is key! My rep made sure I was confident in my product understanding prior to presenting the idea to my client. Once they were on board with the design, my rep then assisted me with a well-written specification. She then went so far as to be ‘on call’ for the general contractor and sub-contractors to field questions about how to bid, order and install,” Williams says, adding that the reaction to Zintra has been incredible.
“We got our ‘WOW’ factor, for sure!”